A Parenting Practice – The Traditional Indigenous Baby Swing

The Traditional Indigenous hammock like swing is a simple yet very profound parenting practice that has been passed down for 1000’s of generations, for the nurturing and care of our little ones; our most sacred bundles. Babies are like little Elders; both are close to creator, close to the spirit world. When babies are resting in a wîpison (baby swing), their spirits may travel back to the spirit world to get what they need to continue living in this world. They need to be able to travel back and forth during this phase in their life; their first transition from spirit to human child on this earth, because they are building their nests here and the swing helps them to do that. We all have a soft spot on the top of our heads from which our spirit can travel to the spirit world and back. This star shaped opening is a doorway for our spirits travel while our bodies rest. The stick at the head part of the swing replicates this doorway for the spirits travel, in the shape of a triangle.

There are many protocols and teachings for the baby swing, like packing it away, as you would a sacred bundle, when it is not in use. The swing has many healing benefits, helping with the natural development of the brain, spine and nervous system. It is also a loving, nurturing parenting practice.

Dr. Darlene Auger (Pîtâpan or The Swing Lady) shares the origin of the swing (wîpison), as it was told to her by Sophie Bruno of Maskwacis. Thousands of years ago, the swing was gifted by a grandmother spirit. The grandmother spirit (Nōtikiw Okāwîmāw Askiy) – Old Lady Mother Earth or Grandmother Earth appeared before a young woman who was juggling many responsibilities and nursing several babies during a Fall Hunt. She was tired and when all of the babies began to cry, she cried too, from mere exhaustion and despair. The grandmother spirit came and presented her with the wîpison bundle. She told the young women that she would come and rock the babies to sleep in the swing so that the mother could do her work. 

Grandmothers are gentle, loving teachers. They are the guides for the adults, children, and babies. They pass on knowledge to younger generations and support mothers; they help the community to move forward in a good way, shaping the future with teachings of natural laws, traditional values of kinship, language, song, ceremony and good human conduct.

In spirit world, there are two grandmothers that hold up the spiritual swing (the rainbow swing). Those little ones that are getting ready to come live on the earth, sit and wait on this rainbow swing. Here they choose their parents, lessons and life purpose.

When spirits make their journey to earth world, they come through the womb of a woman. There they are nurtured and rocked by the water spirit.  When the baby is born we continue to nurture and rock them in the swing replicating the water. This is the law of nature, through which we gain our teachings and practices for raising our children well.